The Washington Post

Steve Lombardozzi starting in left field again, but don’t expect him there opening day

(Kathy Willens/AP)

Johnson said Lombardozzi would probably not start again in left field this spring. Johnson only wanted to acclimate Lombardozzi to the outfield. “If needs come up on the team, I didn’t want to be in a major league game and he’s never even been in the outfield,” Johnson said.

(Johnson has also ruled out backup catcher Jesus Flores at first base, though the idea crossed his mind. But outfielder Brett Carroll was taking groundballs there during batting practice, likely in case of emergency. Carroll also happens to the be Nationals’ catcher, a small factor that has helped him secure a likely spot on the team.)

On Lombardozzi, Johnson again repeated he views Lombardozzi as an everyday player, not a utility man, even if he has moved him all around the field. He called this spring a “crash course” for Lombardozzi in learning multiple positions in order for the Nationals to get him enough at-bats to make it worth not sending him to Class AAA for a full season of playing time.

“It’s no secret I really like watching Lombo play,” Johnson said. “It’s one thing I thought I was trying to make him a utility player. I’m not.”

If Morse can’t play, Roger Bernadina could receive the opening day nod in left. Johnson has repeated his desire for “left-handed presence” all spring, and Bernadina gives the Nationals a left-hander with plenty of experience, albeit one who has been inconsistent in the majors.

Here’s the Nationals’ lineup today against Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins:

1. Ian Desmond, SS

2. Danny Espinosa, 2B

3. Rick Ankiel, CF

4. Mark DeRosa, 3B

5. Chad Tracy, 1B

6. Jesus Flores, C

7. Roger Bernadina, RF

8. Steve Lombardozzi, LF

9. Gio Gonzalez, SP

And the Marlins:

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B

4. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

5. Omar Infante, 2B

6. Austin Kearns, RF

7. Aaron Roward, LF

8. Brett Hayes, C

9. Ricky Nolasco, SP

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.


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